Gladiator Wine Blog

How to Choose a Quality Italian Wine for Your Event | Part 2 of 3

Written and Produced by Tony Margiotta

I thought it would be a great idea to give you some examples of great food and wine pairings within the context of an event. So I teamed up with Ashley M Chamblin and Purslane Catering to put together a dinner party in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn with the help of Fitzcarraldo, Michelle Bable, and Hal Horowitz photography. If you missed Part 1 Click Here.


We began the food and wine pairing with Castellucci Miano “Miano” Catarratto, an off-dry white wine made with 100% Catarratto, a native grape of Sicily. Chef Arden came up with two seafood pairings that worked together beautifully with the Catarratto. The first photo is a Blue Point Oyster On The Half Shell with a Ginger Lemon Mignonette.


The second photo is Scallop Ceviche with Coconut Milk and a brilliant mix of herbs including pickled habanero. Chef Arden played the spice card well with just a touch to balance the residual sugar in “Miano.”

When I asked Chef Arden about how he chose the food and ingredients to pair with these wines, he told me, “The first thing I thought was not Italian!” He makes a good point. The most common way to pair wine and food is by region. But that’s so overdone! He proved that non-regional pairings work very well.


The next pairing was done with Castellucci Miano “Nero d’Avola” 2012, a medium body, dry red wine. This is probably the most approachable of the three wines which makes it so easy to pair with food. Chef Arden decided to push the envelope with a daring Paella Stuffed Squid with Chicken Liver, Cornish Hen and Chorizo Vinaigrette. This was a brilliant fusion pairing that was light in texture just like the wine while the paella and the juicy tannins of Nero d’Avola coalesced into a long and savory finish.


The final pairing was done with Castellucci Miano Perricone 2011, the most ancient indigenous grape in Sicily. It’s a full body, dry red wine with hints of mixed dried berries, spices, smoke, and cacao. This is by far the most complex and structured of the three wines. As a pairing, Chef Arden prepared Lamb Tagine with Tea-Poached Prunes, Almonds, Berbere Spiced Carrots and Israeli Couscous.

Known for having upwards of 30 spices included in its recipe, the ras el hanout spice blend used in the tajine’s base is not particularly hot, but complex, bright, and rich. Perricone wine demands a fatty or gamey meat because of its complexity and cutting acidity. The flavors from the spices integrated nicely with the dried fruit flavors in the wine. This contrast of spice and fruit offered a kind of inhale/exhale effect so that each new bite and each new sip was like the very first time; fresh and invigorating. It was an awesome pairing. My palate was constantly being stimulated as I switched from food to wine.


In Part 3 of this series I’m going to give you specific tips on how to select a quality wine for your event. Read on.



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